A New Approach To Recruit Good Developers

Published: November 25, 2023 by Anthony V.

Challenges of Hiring Good Developers


When you try to hire developers, the goal is to build confidence. You want to be certain that your new hires are top talent to stay competitive in your market and to ensure they will not end up slowing down your entire team.

It is also a race, if you wait indefinitely to find "THE" developer, your enterprise will get outraced by the competition scaling their team way faster than you.

You could think about these goals as forces that repel each other. If you are too cautious in your hiring process, your competitors will outspeed you. If you are not cautious enough, your bad hires will end up slowing everything down

Limited Resources

There is a limited number of candidates, so if you have a malfunctioning hiring process or if your acceptability threshold is too high, you will miss out on excellent developers that will be hired by your competitors.

The flip side of it is that you're also limited by the size of your recruiting team. You do not have an infinite amount of time to perfectly assess each candidate, and candidates themselves will not agree to do 10 interviews with you just for a "possibility" to be hired.

Not An Easy Task

So it seems recruiting developers today is not an easy task:

  • Opposing forces: Too cautious / Not cautious enough
  • Limited number of candidates
  • Limited size of the recruiting team
  • Limited time to assess each candidate
There is only one way to solve this complex equation:
We need to build a hiring process that is Accurate, Effective, and Fast.

Let's see how we can do it!

Real-World Coding Tests

A New Approach

What would be ideal is to be able to predict how candidates would perform on the job.

We have seen in another blog post why algorithmic coding tests are bad.
TLDR: Algorithmic based coding tests do not give us relevant insight about developers' skills, their focus is too narrow, and their solutions can be memorized.

Instead of using abstract algorithmic problems, let's create a real job-related task that truly reflects the day-to-day job. My personal conviction is that one of the best and most feasible ways to do it is to ask candidates to create a real Microservice from scratch.

Microservices as Coding Tests

For brevity purposes, I will not show you here a complete coding test with all the requirements and information, but let's say we have created a coding test that forces candidates to:

  • Implement a small JSON API specification
  • Communicate with a database
  • Integrate with an existing system like another microservice
  • Implement some simple business logic
If you want to see an example of a complete coding test, refer to the Example


Building a good microservice from scratch involves a ton of different skills. Here are some examples of skills that you will be able to assess if you ask your candidates to build a common microservice:

  • Code Quality
  • Software Architecture (Hexagonal Architecture, N-tier...)
  • Testing Strategy (Unit, Integration, E2E...)
  • Configuration Management
  • Implementation of business logic
  • Integration with existing systems (Other microservices, 3rd-party tools, databases, message queues...)
  • Implementation of API specification (JSON API, gRPC...)
  • Databases (PostgreSQL, MongoDB, Cassandra...)
  • Message Queues (Kafka, RabbitMQ...)
  • Autonomy: Understanding and correctly implementing requirements

A Complete Overview

As you can see, building a microservice is really a "complete" experience. There is a lot going on, and every aspect of it is constantly evolving. There are new software architectures, more performant databases, new communication protocols, and so on. Developers need to continuously learn and improve to stay on top of their craft.

Because building a microservice involves so many parts, it gives us a clear and complete overview of the true potential of developers. This is not an approximation anymore; you can truly see how candidates would perform on the job. Also, this assessment method allows us to test skills that would be impossible to test with traditional algorithmic coding tests.

Something Tangible to Talk About

Most of the time with traditional algorithmic coding tests, there is nothing to talk about in the subsequent interview. The interviewer will just know the candidate's score, and that's all. There are rare cases where the interviewer will look at candidates' solutions, but it's a minority. The time spent to complete the coding test is wasted (sometimes more than 4 hours per test!).

Instead, building a real microservice gives us something tangible to talk about in the subsequent interview. Because it's so complete and involves so many parts, there is a lot to discuss. Candidates will be able to explain their choices and alternatives they thought about, and interviewers will be able to challenge their design decisions and push them to really understand how they think.

This exchange could be of really high value, as a recruiter you could gain a deep understanding of candidates' true abilities.

Different Kinds Of Developers

If you adopt this assessment method, you will also see that there are a lot of different kinds of developers. Some are experts and passionate about databases, some have extended knowledge in software architecture and how to produce clean code, and some are medium-good at each part. It would be damaging to not recruit, for example, a developer that lacks knowledge about some databases if this developer is exceptionally good in other aspects.

A complete overview of skills is mandatory to make informed hiring decisions.

The "Time" Problem

So with our new assessment method, what have we gained?

  • We will reduce drastically the number of bad hires because we have deep insights into candidates' skills
  • We will not miss out on top talent because we have a complete overview
BUT there is still the "time" problem. Looking at candidates' code is time-consuming, and checking if everything works is even more time-consuming.

How to overcome this problem? Let's see.

Building a Working Pipeline

The best way to overcome the "time" problem is to create an automation engine that automatically deploys and evaluates candidates' solutions in a real environment.

The workflow will be as follows:

  1. Candidates upload their code, for example as a ZIP file
  2. Download the ZIP file
  3. Build the code (for example, in Java, producing a JAR file)
  4. Deploy the candidate microservice and every infrastructure component required by the coding test (databases, message queues, other microservices, etc.) in a real environment
  5. Run a series of automated tests to assess the candidate's microservice (simulate real interactions with their API)
  6. Give a grade
A lot of challenges need to be solved to create a pipeline that works and is secure. Your automation engine needs to continuously control many variables to ensure you are grading candidates fairly. You want to make sure that random events like an instance shutdown or network error will not affect candidates' grading.

Our Solution

Codigrade is a coding assessment platform focused on real-world coding tests, as we just saw.
All of our coding tests require candidates to create a real microservice from scratch. Their microservice will be automatically deployed and evaluated in a live production environment, we take care of the whole evaluation process.

The process is straightforward (See How It Works):

  1. You choose a coding test that is close to your target job
  2. You create an assessment with this coding test for the candidate you want to assess
  3. The candidate takes the coding test
  4. We automatically deploy and evaluate the code
  5. You view the coding test result
Try it now for free by creating an account here: https://portal.codigrade.com/signup